Levinsky Market - Self Guided Tour
Visit One of Tel Aviv's Best Markets
Last updated: July 2020
Levinsky Market (or Shuk Levinsky in Hebrew) is one of the most unique markets in Tel Aviv. It’s not your everyday traditional market where you come to buy a few vegetables, fruits and fresh herbs. It’s not as well known as other Tel Aviv markets such as the Carmel market or the boutique-style market of Sarona. However, Levinsky Market is a culinary and cultural gem where you’ll find stalls and delis filled with every culinary treasure you can think of from (almost) every corner of the globe. In the span of a few blocks you’ll find spice shops and gourmand food stores, some of which have been operating for almost 80 years, next to simple eateries and trendy restaurants and bars.
Weaving through the endless food stalls and eateries, you’ll see local street art and traditional workshops of local seamstresses or shoemakers. Levinsky Market is one of the hidden gems of Tel Aviv, loved by locals and tourists alike who quickly fall in love with its one-of-a-kind atmosphere, a mix of old and new and traditional-hipster charm. No wonder Condé Nast Traveler included Tel Aviv’s Levinsky Market in its list of “The Best Antique Stores and Flea Markets, According to the Pros”.
Taking a stroll through the shops and restaurants demonstrate, more than anything else, the multiculturalism of Israel. There’s a story behind every corner, immigrants from all over the world who have left their homes and now are keeping their ancestors’ traditions through their craft.
Levinsky Market Tel Aviv - Self Guided Tour
Where to find Levinsky Market
You’ll find Shuk Levinsky in the hearth of Florentin neighborhood in southern Tel Aviv. The main part of the market can be found mainly on Levinsky Street between HaAliyah Street and Herzl Street, but the nearby streets, generally speaking, between Jaffa Rd. and Matalon Street, are also filled with hidden gems.
When to Visit Shuk Levinsky
Levinsky Market has different vibes at daytime and nighttime. In the mornings, you’ll get to experience the commotion of the local shoppers who do their shopping here, especially on Thursdays’ and Fridays’ morning when everyone is doing their shopping for Shabbat. The market itself is closed from Friday’s early afternoon through Saturday. In the evenings, the Shuk itself is closed, but that’s the best time to visit the local bars and restaurants. Do check the hours of the eateries since some of them are closed during the weekend.
History of Tel Aviv's Levinsky Market
Levinsky Markets’ past stretches back to the late 1920s when many working-class immigrants from Greece settled in Florentin neighborhood in the south of Tel Aviv. Soon enough, food shops, spice stalls and simple eateries filled with delicacies from the Balkans began opening in the area. After the state of Israel was established, an influx of immigrants from Iran, North Africa, Turkey and from other areas of the Balkans joined the mix, and Levinsky Market became the throbbing heart of this immigrant neighborhood, a reflection of the cultural melting pot where you could find spices and goods from all around the globe.
Must-Visit Stops at Levinsky Market for Food, Drinks and Spices
Yom Tov Delicatessen
This unique deli is run by Yomi and Itan, whose grandfather opened the place in 1967 after he’d immigrated from Turkey to Israel. You’ll find here unique cheese, the best olive oil and vinegar, cured meats, olives and sweets, homemade delicacies such as stuffed grape leaves, marinated hibiscus stuffed with cream, cheese-stuffed peppers and more. The brothers’ culinary knowledge is extensive and the service is excellent. Even though there might be a queue, especially on Fridays, it’s worth the wait.
Yom Tov Delicatessen Address: Levinsky St. 43
Another culinary institute in Shuk Levinsky is Haim Rafael delicatessen. First opened as a simple grocery store by Haim Raphael and his late wife Esther, Holocaust survivors from Greece who wanted to support their family (you can read about Haim’s memories from the holocaust here). Throughout the years, the little store has gained an excellent reputation and become one of the best delis in the area. Here you’ll find goods from the Balkans such as smoked fish, olives, cheese, cured meats, salads, sweets and more.
Haim Rafael delicatessen Address: Levinsky St. 36
On our recent visit to Levinsky, we had a chance to check out one of the newest additions to the market. Levinsky 53 was opened in recent months by Dalit and Avi, and it’s a mecca for kibbeh lovers. Kibbeh, kubbeh or kubba is a popular dish in Levantine cuisine. It can be fried, baked or cooked in a broth and it’s made from bulgur/semolina and stuffed with minced meat, onions and a mixture of local seasoning but there are also vegetarian versions. Dalit is no stranger to Levinsky Market. For the past 15 years, Dalit and her sisters have been helping their father run the family delicatessen HaHalban (The Milkman in English) which is located at 48 Levinsky St. In this little shop you’ll find, among other things, the best cheese from all over the world, homemade salads, smoked fish and other delicious delicacies.
But we’re here for the kibbeh so let’s return to that, shall we? Stepping into Levinsky 53, feels like stepping into your grandma’s kitchen. That is if your grandma is from Iraq, Lebanon or Syria. Dalit is welcoming us with a huge smile on her face and starts piling different kinds of kibbeh in simple old-fashioned dishes. She’s surrounded by huge pots and everything smells delicious. Later we even visited her husband, Avi who was busy in the small kitchen, creating these yummy dumplings according to a recipe he had learned from his Iraqi grandma. Try the classic fried kibbeh with minced meat or mushrooms or any of the delicious kubbeh hamusta which are served in a broth. We loved the lemony kubbeh hamusta with celery and swiss chard and the bright purple beetroot kibbeh. There are many other kinds of kibbeh as well (and vegeterian/vegan options) as well as kebabs, schnitzel and other classic Israeli homemade dishes. However, you have to try the kibbeh, trust us on that! You’ll pay around NIS 40 (around $ 10) for a filling dish of kibbeh, rice and grilled vegetables. That’s a bargain in our eyes!
Address: 53 Levinsky St.
If you haven’t tried the Israeli burekas yet, here’s a great place to try this heavenly pastry. Burekas or bourekas is Israel’s version of Börek, the doughy pastry that is filled with either cheese, meat or vegetables and can be found in the Balkans, Caucasus and several other Mediterranean countries. At Burekas Penso the special recipe has passed through three generations of Turkish immigrants, and here you’ll find several kinds of burekas, made from different kinds of dough and filled with several fillings such as cheese, spinach, eggplants, potatoes and more. The most popular burekas is probably the cheese-filled phyllo dough burekas, served with a hard-boiled egg and freshly-grated tomato sauce. It’s crispy and flaky on the outside and soft and chewy on the inside. You can also try their homemade Ayran, a cold Turkish yogurt drink that is very refreshing in the heat of summer.
Burekas Penso Address: Levinsky St. 43
Nuts, Dried Fruits and Spice Shops
There are so many amazing spice shops in Levinsky Market. Walking along the main street, Levinsky Street, we were intoxicated by the aromas and photogenic piles of different spices, dried fruits and tea mixtures. If you are looking for unique Middle Eastern flavors, try the Za’atar mix, Sumac, Baharat, Ras el Hanout and Cumin. It’s hard to highlight just one shop, but some of the best include Caffee Atlas (which also sells coffee beans they grind on the spot), Tavlinsky (which specializes in medicinal plants and a general healthier approach), ChavShush and many more.
Caffee Atlas Address: Levinsky St. 49 | Tavlinsky Address: Levinsky St. 57 | ChavShush Address: Nahalat Binyamin 105
Magic Halvah / Kesem Ha Halvah
Tahini halvah is another Israeli delicacy you must try. Though different kinds of halvah can be found in many other areas such as the Balkans, Eastern Europe and the Middle East to name a few, Israeli Halvah is unique since it’s made primarily from sesame seeds and usually does not contain wheat flour or dairy products (which makes it pareve). Halvah is a very rich and sweet candy with nutty aroma and taste that can come in different flavors such as vanilla, chocolate, infused with different nuts and more. It looks like a cake with kind of a flaky texture and sold by weight. It’s very very sweet, which makes it a great companion for coffee or bread and personally, we can only eat nibbles of the stuff, but it’s delicious and one of the must-try Israeli foods.
Magic Halvah is a small shop that sells dozens of kinds of halvah. It is run by the charming Linda, an immigrant from Iraq. Originally the family store used to sell spices, but Linda’s son decided to make a change and started making handmade halvah. Their halvah is to die for, and there are so many flavors to choose from. Halvah with different kinds of chocolates and nuts, black-sesame halve, halvah with lotus biscuit crumbles, halvah with stevia sweetener and many more. Everything is handmade and delicious so this is one of the best places to try halvah in Israel. Linda also sells different kinds of high-quality tahini in her tiny shop.
Magic Halvah Address: Levinsky St. 48
Rachamim – Juices and Vegan Malabi
There’s nothing special about freshly squeezed juices, you can find many juice stalls all over Tel Aviv, but Rachamim is known for his friendly and sunny disposition and yummy vegan malabi. Malabi is Israel’s version of Muhallebi, milk pudding that is served in the Middle East and is the perfect dessert in the hot summer days. It is usually made with rice, sugar, rice flour and milk, and it’s served with pistachios, coconut and rose or orange water. The vegan version is made with coconut cream; therefore, it’s especially creamy and delicious. Rahamim serves his creamy coconut-flavored vegan malabi with fresh pomegranates. Rachamim came from Iran at a young age, and he has many stories to tell. His little kiosk is not always open, but if it is, stop here for a drink or some sweet and delicious malabi.
Address: Nahalat Binyamin St 103 (next to the spice shop)
Café Levinsky 41
Café Levinsky 41 is one of the most well-known joints in Levinsky Market thanks to the instagrammable quality of these fizzy drinks. Benny Briga opened his little Kiosk a few years ago, and since then, his beautiful and creative drinks have become very popular and one of the must-visit spots in Levinsky Market and Tel Aviv in general. Gazoz was a very popular drink in Israel in the middle of the 20th century. It is essentially soda water sweetened with different kinds of syrups. The refreshing gazoz drinks Benny creates in his little kiosk are nothing like the gazoz of old days. It’s a mixture of fresh and preserved fruits, fresh herbs and all-natural syrups Benny concocts in his magical lab. This drink is truly extraordinary, refreshing, delicious, beautiful – it’s like an edible art exhibition in a cup. If you want our advice, ask the sellers for one of their special blends and then sit at the old Susita pickup truck and sip this one-of-a-kind nectar of the gods.
Café Levinsky 41 Address: Levinsky St. 41
Coffee addicts need to stop by Cafelix. This beautifully designed café serves some of the best coffee in Tel Aviv. They import high-quality coffee beans and roast it in their own roastery. The setting is lovely, and the coffee is delicious.
Cafelix Address: Merkhavya St. 6
If you want to satisfy your sweet tooth with some American flavors, check out Sweet Box, an American style bakery where you’ll find chocolate chip cookies, cupcakes, cinnamon rolls, red velvet cakes and other such sweet treats. There are also a few vegan options such as granola cookies, chocolate chip cookies, brownies, muffins, and even a vegan cinnamon roll!
Sweet Box Address: Ha-Khalutzim St. 6
Best Restaurants in Levinsky Market
Levinsky Market is not just about the specialty food stores and delis. There are great restaurants and bars in the area, from simple family-run eateries to hipster cafes and trendy restaurants and bars. Here are some of the best ones.
Mabsuta \ Garger Hazahav
Both of these neighborhood hummus joints serve delicious homemade hummus with different toppings and a variety of delicious salads and side dishes ranging from roasted eggplants, beetroot salad, tabbouleh salad (made from finely chopped parsley, tomatoes, mint, onion and bulgur), majadra (rice with lentils), veggie patties and more. Everything is fresh and delicious, prices are reasonable, and it’s a great choice for vegetarians and vegans. At Garger Hazahav you can also order a miniature version of all the dishes.
Caffe Kaymak is a vegetarian coffee shop that is known for its creative and colorful dishes inspired by different cuisines from Mediterranean to Thai and Indian. Their menu is ever-changing based on the market’s ingredients, seasonality and chef’s inspiration. From Thai-inspired noodle glass salad with grilled pineapple and watermelon to a colorful spread of Greek fava with roasted vegetables or homemade granola for breakfast. On Saturday nights they have live music shows.
Caffe Kaymak Address: Levinsky St. 49
Tony Ve Esther (Tony & Esther)
One of the most popular neighborhood coffee shops in Florentin. Tony Ve Esther, serves an eclectic mix of breakfast, lunch and dinner dishes with options for vegetarians and vegans. You can find here everything from a huge burekas for breakfast, to small traditional Jewish and Middle Eastern style mezze such as chopped liver with horseradish, gravlax, tabbouleh and tahini, salads, sandwiches, meat dishes and more. They also have many options for vegetarians/vegans. With its outdoor setting and hipster vibes, it’s a great place for people watching. We came here for a late lunch (around 2:00 pm), and by then some of the specials and small mezze had already run out.
Tony Ve Esther Address: Levinsky St. 39
An ouzeria is a small Greek tavern where people gather around and order Greek mezze and ouzo. Ouzeria bar at Levinsky Market, ticks all the boxes when it comes to delicious Greek-style mezze, ouzo, and a lively atmosphere. But you’ll also find here other dishes inspired by Mediterranean cuisine. The place is small and can get very busy and noisy in the evenings, but the food is excellent, and so is the atmosphere. Try their ikra (or taramasalata, basically a fish eggs dip), the tzatziki salad, their unique homemade pasta dishes, and their homemade pistachio ice cream.
Ouzeria Address: Matalon St. 44
If you are lovers of fish and seafood and have a passion for anise, this restaurant-bar is the place for you. Pimpinella has a huge selection of ouzo and arak drinks accompanied by fish and seafood dishes in various cooking methods with a Mediterranean flair. You can try their upscale fish and chips dish, the fish carpaccio or grilled calamari served on a bed of yogurt and fresh herbs. They have unique cocktails made with arak, and their desserts are homemade and addictive. Try the katayef, a unique Arabic dessert that is usually very sweet, but Pimpinella’s version is well balanced, and even though we were quite full, we gladly wolfed down these stuffed pancake dumplings with walnuts, cinnamon and other spices. Their homemade creamy popsicles are also a great choice and the secret ingredient; tahini balances the chocolate flavors beautifully.
Pimpinella Address: Matalon St. 40 / Nahalat Binyamin St. 115
Saluf and Sons
Saluf and Sons is one of the best places in Tel Aviv to have a taste of Yemenite cuisine. This casual restaurant is almost always full of hungry diners who flock to this hip eatery to devour their fabulous stews, soups and most of all, the various types of Yemenite bread and baked goods. It’s a carbohydrate-lovers paradise. Try the kubaneh, jachnun or malawach, the delicious stews or traditional salads. You can grab a seat at one of the communal tables or the small bar and ask the attentive waitresses for recommendations and explanations about the different Yemenite delights. Vegetarians will also find here a lot of veggie-based dishes.
Saluf and Sons Address: Nahalat Binyamin St. 80
Levinsky Pasta Bar
If you’re craving some good old traditional pasta, you’ve come to the right place. Levinsky Pasta is a tiny place that offers one of the best homemade pasta in Israel. You can buy fresh pasta by weight and cook it at home or sit at the bar and watch the talented chef cook it before your eyes. The place is tiny and cozy, and the menu is on the minimalist side, offering several pasta dishes made with fresh ingredients and olive oil or tomato sauce. Try the Shuk Levinsky Pasta with Basil, tomatoes, pickled lemon, pistachio and Romana artichoke or the A La Putanesca Pasta with Sardines, anchovies, olives and tomatoes. You’ll probably come back for more.
Levinsky Pasta Bar Address: Nahalat Binyamin St. 84
This pizza restaurant serves some of the best pizzas in Tel Aviv. Their pizza is crispy on the edges and chewy in the center, and they serve both classics and creative kinds of pizza such as the kale, artichoke and parmesan pizza or bacon, honey, hot peppers and olives pizza. There are also four kinds of salads, cold drinks and beers. There’s a vegan-friendly pizza with cashew cheese. Note the opening hours – they are open only from 4:00 pm.
Lila Pizza Address: Merkhavya St. 4
BeerBazaar offers an enormous selection of Israeli craft beer, some of which they brew themselves. They have a few branches in Tel Aviv and in Jerusalem’s Machne Yehuda. Everything is accompanied by delicious and unique sandwiches and snacks and occasionally live music.
BeerBazaar Address: Zevulun St. 13
Salimi | Shamshiri – Persian Food
Both Salimi and Shamshiri are well known for their authentic Persian food. We haven’t eaten there ourselves, but if you are looking to try some authentic Persian food around the market you can check them out. Both of them are family-style restaurants, and the food is budget-friendly.
Salimi Address: Nahalat Binyamin St. 80 | Shamshiri Address: Nahalat Binyamin St. 99
Last Tips for Visiting Shuk Levinsky
- As mentioned before, note the opening hours when you plan your visit to the market, especially during the weekend. Some restaurants/bars might be closed.
- Levinsky Market is part of Florentin, an edgy neighborhood where you can find some of the best graffiti in Tel Aviv so make sure to check it out as well
- Tipping – It’s customary to leave a tip in a coffee shop or restaurant of about 10-15%.